|The Shattered Mind
Author: aims80 PM
Journalist Damon is left reeling when his girlfriend is murdered, and, when the murder of the latest It Girl, model Sara, pushes his girlfriend's death from the front page Damon starts his own investigation. Which leads him closer to a dangerous killer.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Crime - Chapters: 17 - Words: 38,560 - Reviews: 18 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 09-27-12 - Published: 03-12-10 - id: 2784512
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
By the time I left the police station after one hour and forty minutes of "friendly chat" later I had two missed calls from Joycey and a passive-aggressive SMS from Ted gently reminding me (his words, not mine) that I hadn't emailed a first draft of copy to him yet. He was all business again, no more signs of the human Ted. As I walked towards home my phone rang and I pulled it out of my pocket to see that there was no name or number only "blocked" as the caller I.D. I guessed after the missed calls and SMS it was either Joycey or Ted calling to put a rocket up my arse, neither of whom had ever been asked to write an article about the death of their partner and I answered with a reluctant "Hello."
"Um...is this 04996378620?" It was a young female voice, with an Indian accent. It was an unfamiliar voice and I thought to myself that they were really recruiting call centre workers young over in India now.
"Yes." I said reluctantly.
"Is this Damon? The phone number's account holder?" She asked.
I was about to say no, I stole the phone from a nun but given my recent time with the police I did not really need them turning up on my doorstep telling me I'd sinned against God and broken the law by beating an elderly nun up and stealing her phone. I doubted standing up in court and saying "but she took a vow of poverty and an iPhone 4S isn't really staying true to her vow now is it?" would be enough to keep me out of trouble. "Yes." I said instead.
"Good." She sounded relieved. I wondered if this was her first day
"And I'm not interested in a new mobile phone but I do like the idea of a cap plan so I can get unlimited SMS's." I said quickly before she could get on a roll and give me her spiel.
There was silence on the other end. "Um...that's nice." The woman said.
'Not much of a training program in place over there. Maybe the GFC had hit telecommunications and call centres hard. Plus she's broken cardinal rule numero uno of call centre work: she hasn't called in the middle of dinnertime.'
"Listen I do want to change my mobile plan but it's not convenient right now. I'm very busy." I said, walking around an unkempt looking man who was sitting outside a pub with an upturned hat and a sign proclaiming himself homeless and hungry, my eyes averted like I had not seen him, like I was far too busy, and thought of how I regularly pretended to be having an important phone conversation when I saw people selling raffle tickets for orphans Angelina Jolie had chosen not to adopt or some other important cause to get out of giving money. It wasn't that I was a tightarse (Lou might disagree given I only ever took her to the movies on cheap Tuesday but I thought of it more as being frugal than being tight-fisted) because I made direct debit payments monthly to the RSPCA, and the Cancer Council as well as having a sponsor child with World Vision, but more that I would feel obliged to not just give a couple of dollars but promise them my firstborn child too.
I hated that I automatically thought homeless and hanging for alcohol more like when I read the man's sign as I passed. Lou always told me I was too cynical like when I told her that the "Masterchef" immunity challenges must be rigged because the contestant's food was always served second so it was hardly a blind tasting. Or when I said the producers on "The Biggest Loser" knew what name the contestants had all written down at elimination because it would be way too convenient that it all hinged on the last two or so votes read out. Or when I said that a character on "Neighbours" couldn't be pregnant because they'd be glorifying teen pregnancy or when I said they would not die because they'd had a death the year before.
"I will only take up a minute of your time, I promise." The woman said.
"What part of not now did you not understand?" I snapped. Instantly I was contrite. In my first year of uni I had worked part time as a delivery driver for a national pizza chain and I'd often felt like a soldier on the front line because if the pizza was later than they'd been told because we'd been slammed with orders, or someone had not turned up for work, or I'd had trouble finding their house it wasn't the staff back at the shop who were coping the flak for the longer than expected wait. And I knew I wouldn't last a day in a call centre role. The first customer to abuse me would be told to go fuck themselves and then I'd hang up on them. Hell if I wanted to be yelled at, abused and threatened I'd go work at "Centrelink."
So I quickly apologised for my brusque, rude response. "I'm sorry. I'm just...I'm dealing with some stuff. My girlfriend has just not only died but was murdered."
There was silence on the other end of the phone.
"I swear I'm not telling porkies. I bet you hear some pretty incredulous excuses for people not wanting to talk huh?" I said sympathetically. It didn't escape me that I'd been guilty of doing just that sometimes.
Damon you have an appointment with Centrelink to discuss your austudy allowance:
Gee, I'd love to make it but I was walking to class and boom, my knee just dislocated like that, and though the hospital put it back in it has since slipped out two times and I've got an appointment to see an orthopaedic surgeon because I might need to have a pin inserted to stop it from slipping out all the time.
Damon your uni assignment is overdue:
I know and I'm so sorry but my dog ate my printed out copy and then, for good measure, he ate my laptop too. And just as I was waiting for him to get it out of his system a big bloody tiger came along and ate my dog up- printed assignment and laptop included.
Good sir, can you spare a moment to talk about our religion and why you should convert:
I would but I'm a Scientologist. Seriously. Are you here to audit me?
"Uh...No, not really." She said, sounding confused.
"First day huh?" I asked sympathetically. I stopped on the edge of a pedestrian crossing, jabbing the walk button with my elbow and watched for the little man to turn green. Lou hated the signs, claiming it was just one more sign of the patriarchal society we lived in.
"Uh...maybe I'm talking to the wrong person but you said your girlfriend was dead and that's an insanely big coincidence." The woman said.
The little man turned green but I didn't move. My feet were stuck to the pavement and the hairs on the back of my neck were standing to attention. A woman almost ran into the back of me and as she swerved around me, shooting me daggers, her elbow jabbed into my ribs. "Is this about Lou?" I asked.
"Yes. That's what I've been trying to tell you the last couple of minutes!" The woman said, sounding both frustrated and relieved at the same time- if that is a combination that can actually exist. But in America they thought to put peanut butter and jam together so hey, anything's possible.
"Do you know her?" I asked.
"Yes. We were very close." The woman said.
"I don't...what did you say your name was again?" I asked.
"I didn't say. We met a couple of years ago when she did some teaching rounds and she's been helping me deal with some stuff. Private stuff. She was meant to meet me for coffee yesterday but she didn't turn up. I left a couple of messages but she didn't get back to me. And then today I heard about a young woman being found dead and online there was a photograph and it was Lou. I didn't expect it obviously. I didn't think she was dead. Just sick or busy-"
"What photograph?" I interrupted.
"Sorry?" The woman sounded confused.
"What was the photograph?" I demanded, a little too fervently.
"Uh...she was at some kind of formal occasion, all dressed up in a pink silk dress. Gucci I think. Her hair was in a top knot." The woman said.
I closed my eyes briefly. I could see the photograph in my mind. It was Lou's sister's wedding. (She was now divorced but that's another story that you would expect to see on one of the trashy Foxtel stations that Lou loved so much.)
"The thing is...the reason I'm ringing...you knew Lou had a secret right? A big one?" The woman asked.
The little man turned green for the second time and, for the second time, I ignored him. Was it my imagination or was he blinking green a little more ferociously and were the beeps coming from the button to let blind people know it was safe to cross being pounded out a little bit more aggressively? Like he was saying dude, you pressed the button; you didn't walk, now get your arse over to the other side of the word or stop pressing my buttons.
Everyone has secrets. If you say you don't you are either lying or fooling yourself. Not many people know I like to pretend I'm on a cooking show and tell the viewers- i.e. Cat- what I am doing each step when I'm making dinner. But what qualifies as a big secret?
"Hello? Are you there?" The woman asked.
"Here." I said through dry lips. I licked them and tried for more than one word. "Like what?"
"Uh...you've got to work that out not me. I'm just giving you the clue." The woman said.
The phone went dead and I blinked and the phone wasn't in my hand and I was standing on the curb while the little man changed to red. But I knew the phone call had happened and there was something I needed to know.